After our three-day New Year holiday weekend, many of us are now returning to our more normal lives, and starting to clear out the detritus of our long month of holidays (though many Catholics and others who celebrate the full 12 days of Christmas leave their trees up through the Epiphany, which falls on January 6). But whenever you decide to de-decorate, the Los Angeles Department of Sanitation & Environment (LASAN) will be your best friend in the effort, providing information on how to deal with all kinds of holiday-related waste items, and – in particular – a holiday tree recycling program that repurposes 90,000-100,000 trees each year and turns them into free mulch and compost for residents’ gardening and landscaping efforts.
The following information is from LASAN’s annual community message on tree recycling, and its Christmas Tree Recycling Program web page, which explains how to recycle your Christmas trees, and which kinds of other items can or can’t be recycled and/or disposed of in your blue and black waste bins.
Christmas Tree Recycling
There are actually several options for recycling your Christmas trees, all of which first require that you remove all decorations and stands. After that, you can:
- Cut the tree into pieces, place them in your green bin, and put it out on your regular trash collection day.
- Leave the whole tree at the curb for collection on your weekly trash day. (This method is also especially recommended for residents of multi-family buildings who don’t have individual trash bins.)
- Drop off trees at one of 13 participating LAFD fire stations (including Fire Station 29 at 4029 Wilshire Blvd.)
- Schedule a Bulky Item Pickup by a) calling LASAN’s 24-hour Customer Care Center at 1-800-773-2489, b) visiting the MYLA311 website (create a “Bulky Items” ticket and select “Christmas Tree” in the drop down menu), or c) going to the LA Sanitation website, clicking the green SERVICE REQUEST button, and creating a Bulky Item pickup request (be sure to select “Christmas Tree” in the drop down menu).
- On Sunday, January 8 ONLY, from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., drop off trees at one of six participating Recreation and Parks sites (including the Los Angeles Zoo Parking Lot, the Rancho Cienega Recreation Center in Baldwin Hills (5001 Rodeo Road), and the Cheviot Hills Recreation Center in Ranch Park (2551 Motor Ave.)).
- Bring trees to one of the city mulch sites, including the Lopez Canyon Environmental Education Center (11950 Lopez Canyon Road, 91342, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., any day in January), or the Harbor Mulch Facility (1400 N. Gaffey Street, 90731, Monday-Friday during January, from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.)
Other Holiday Waste
- Items such as gift wrapping that contains “glitter, foil, or a laminate to make it more durable and appealing” cannot be recycled and must go into your black trash bin.
- Other holiday packing materials, such as “cartons, cardboard, certain plastics and gift boxes” can be recycled in your green bin.
- House hazardous waste, “such as electronics (i.e. televisions and computers) and batteries” cannot go into either the green or black bins, and must be taken to a S.A.F.E. Center.
Also, if you have a lot of cardboard this year, LA SAN says, “we are accepting extra cardboard that doesn’t fit in the blue bin. Please break down your boxes, then cut and tie with twine into 4×4 bundles weighing no more than 30 pounds. Please place the bundles next to your blue bin, facing the street so our drivers can see them.”
And, finally, please note that artificial trees cannot be recycled – they must be broken down and placed in your black trash bin for collection.
About Elizabeth Fuller
Elizabeth Fuller was born and raised in Minneapolis, MN but has lived in LA since 1991 - with deep roots in both the Sycamore Square and West Adams Heights-Sugar Hill neighborhoods. She spent 10 years with the Greater Wilshire Neighborhood Council, volunteers at Wilshire Crest Elementary School, and is the co-owner/publisher of the Buzz.
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